NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2021

Recaps from Friday’s action, the Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to trade Pierre-Luc Dubois, the latest notable injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Anton Khudobin had a 34-shot shutout as the Dallas Stars crushed the Nashville Predators 7-0. The Stars tallied a franchise-record five power-play goals in their season-opener which had been delayed nearly two weeks due to a spread of COVID-19 among several players. Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski each scored twice for the Stars but captain Jamie Benn left the game with a lower-body injury following an awkward collision with Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson in the second period. The club provided no update on Benn’s status following the game.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn sidelined during season-opening win over the Nashville Predators (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals edged the Buffalo Sabre 4-3 on a shootout goal by John Carlson. Jakub Vrana had a goal and an assist for the Capitals but they also lost rugged winger Tom Wilson to a lower-body injury. The Caps were playing without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov as the four were recently placed on their COVID-19 absence list. Sabres rookie Dylan Cozens tallied his first career NHL goal.

Kris Letang netted the game-winner in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 3-1 deficit to nip the New York Rangers 4-3. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for his first win of the season. Former Charlottetown Islanders defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph collected an assist in his NHL debut with the Penguins.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares broke a 2-2 tie with a third-period power-play goal in a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. The Leafs were playing without Auston Matthews and Joe Thornton. Matthews (upper-body) isn’t expected to be sidelined for long but Thornton (fractured rib) will be out for at least a month.

The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their first victory of the season by downing the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen kicked out 30 shots for his first career NHL win while Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Devan Dubnyk lost his first game against his former club as the Minnesota Wild picked up a 4-1 win. Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for the Wild while Kaapo Kakhonen got the win after replacing sidelined starter Cam Talbot, who left the game with a lower-body injury. It’s uncertain how long Talbot could be sidelined but he’s expected to miss Sunday’s rematch.

The Arizona Coyotes spoiled the Vegas Golden Knights’ home-opener with a 5-2 victory to snap the latter’s four-game season-opening win streak. Conor Garland led the way for the Coyotes with a goal and two assists. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta (undisclosed) missed the game but will rejoin his teammates for Tuesday’s match against the Anaheim Ducks.

HEADLINES

**UPDATE**

 

TSN: Darren Dreger last night reported the Columbus Blue Jackets are closing in on a trade involving Pierre-Luc Dubois. The 22-year-old center requested a trade earlier this month and was benched for most of Thursday’s games against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Dreger reports the Winnipeg Jets are the front-runners, although nothing is done yet. He speculates Patrik Laine or Jack Roslovic could be part of this deal as both players requested trades from the Jets. Dreger feels a trade could be done before the end of this weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday.

Pierre LeBrun points out Roslovic, a Columbus native, would be a natural fit with the Blue Jackets. He also reports the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens appear to be among the other interested clubs.

The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline tweeted Dubois was informed he’ll be a healthy scratch for Saturday’s rematch against the Lightning, assuming he’s still on the team by then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was assumed Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen preferred to retain Dubois for the remainder of this season and attempt to trade the center in the offseason. Dubois’ benching on Thursday, however, appears to have created an untenable situation that cannot be allowed to fester any longer. I’ll have more about this in the Rumors section.

Speaking of Laine, he’s nursing an upper-body injury and was placed on injured reserve yesterday by the Jets. Nate Thompson (lower body) was also placed on IR.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle could return to the lineup today against the Jets after missing the last two games with an undisclosed ailment.

USA TODAY: NBC Universal will reportedly shut down its main sports channel (NBCSN) at the end of 2021. NBC owns the NHL’s national broadcast rights in the United States, with most of the league’s game televised on NBCSN. The league’s deal with the network expires at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL intended to shop around for a new broadcasting deal this summer. If they stay with NBC, their games would be shown on USA Network, which goes into more homes than NBCSN currently does.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 12, 2020

An update on the plans for next season plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Cam Talbot, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL NETWORK: Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes we’ll learn more on the NHL’s plans to open the 2020-21 season on Jan. 1 over the next two weeks. The league and the NHLPA will use that period to see how quickly the season can begin and what it will look like.

Friedman believes a rumored proposal to the NHL board of governors for their meeting today is unlikely as it might be too soon. However, he thinks the governors will be updated over what’s being discussed.

He also feels the league is serious about starting on New Year’s Day. He points to MLB and NFL not playing in a quarantine bubble, resulting in cancellations and things beyond their control. The best option might be to start as early as possible and adjust on the fly like MLB did and the NFL is doing. That would leave a week or two open at the end of the season to make up games if necessary.

If they start on Jan. 1, the number of games played would be 56 and 72. Friedman’s sources didn’t mention 48 games, though he didn’t rule it out. What the schedule will look like, how many games the players are willing to play per week, whether they’ll be played in hub cities or not remain to be determined.

Friedman also said there’s a growing sense from teams that they want to play in their own buildings, though there’s concern from a few teams that they won’t be able to because of government regulations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve said before, the NHL and NHLPA don’t have a lot of time to work out the details for a Jan. 1 start to the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the two sides are in constant daily contact but their return-to-play committee has yet to hold its first meeting.

A Jan. 1 start means training camps must open for most clubs in early December, with last season’s seven non-playoff teams (Anaheim, Buffalo, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa and San Jose) opening camps in late November. All players must return to their home cities before then. Sorting out an exhibition schedule that incorporates the Christmas holidays must be worked out. A regular-season schedule must be planned out and coordinated with their broadcasting partners.

I’m not saying these details can’t be worked out in short order, but the league and the players must get cracking to reach a workable agreement to drop the puck on New Year’s Day.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said his club is “full steam ahead” with goaltender Tuukka Rask for 2020-21. “I think everything that happened in the bubble has been addressed, dealt with,” said Cassidy, referring to Rask’s leaving the team for family reasons during the 2020 playoffs. “We’re moving on, getting ready to win next year. That includes our goaltender.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s silly to even imagine the Bruins not returning with Rask next season. They have no viable replacement options within their system or via the trade and free-agent markets. Rask’s departure had the full support of the club and his teammates. I don’t believe it was an issue or will be one going forward.

NBC SPORTS: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is part of a fundraising drive that raised $17 million to save Alabama-Huntsville’s hockey program. Talbot is a UAH alumnus. He pointed out it’s still important for the UAH Chargers to get into a college conference. They’re the only NCAA Division 1 hockey program in the Southeastern United States.

SWISS HOCKEY NEWS: A recent report claims NHL free-agent center Carl Soderberg is seeking a well-paid deal in Switzerland. That could be difficult given the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19. Soderberg is also receiving interest from Sweden.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators prospect Tim Stuetzle is making good progress in his recovery from a broken bone in his hand. Stuetzle was selected third overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: One year after Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet, Ken Campbell believes the hockey world is better off.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cherry’s supporters believe otherwise. For what it’s worth, I think his replacements, Kevin Bieksa and Brian Burke, did a good job. Bieksa is a breath of fresh air breaking down plays and is a natural TV personality. Burke provides the inside hockey observations and old-school attitude without veering far off-topic like Cherry used to do.

SHL: Former NHL goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has announced his retirement. “The Monster” played eight seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers from 2009-10 to 2016-17, with a career record of 72 wins, 67 losses and 23 overtime losses, 2.88 goals-against average, a .901 save percentage and seven shutouts in 179 games. He spent the last four seasons with Linkopings HC of the Swedish Hockey League.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Gustavsson in his future endeavors.










List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

List of Notable NHL UFA Signings – October 9, 2020

8:30 pm ET: St. Louis Blues sign Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract.

7 pm ET: Toronto Maple Leafs sign T.J. Brodie to a four-year contract ($5 million AAV).

4 pm to 5 pm ET: Calgary Flames sign Jacob Markstrom to a six-year, $36-million contract.

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3 pm to 4 pm ET: Anaheim Ducks sign Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year contract ($3.9 million AAV)

Washington Capitals sign defenseman Justin Schultz to a two-year, $8 million contract.

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2 pm to 3 pm ET: Florida Panthers sign Alexander Wennberg to a one-year $2.25 million contract.

New York Rangers sign Jack Johnson to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Nashville Predators sign Mark Borowiecki to a two-year, $4-million contract.

In other contract news, the Ottawa Senators sign Matt Murray to a four-year contract with an annual average value of $6.25 million. The Senators acquired Murray, a restricted free agent, on Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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1 pm to 2 pm ET: Vancouver Canucks sign Braden Holtby to a two-year deal ($4.3 million AAV)

Minnesota Wild sign goaltender Cam Talbot to a three-year, $11-million contract.

Dallas Stars sign Anton Khudobin to a three-year contract ($3.5 million AAV)

Edmonton Oilers sign center Kyle Turris to a two-year contract ($1.65 million AAV)

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12 pm to 1 pm ET:  Washington Capitals sign goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

Toronto Maple Leafs sign winger Wayne Simmonds to a one-year, $1.5-million contract with a full no-movement clause.

Detroit Red Wings sign winger Bobby Ryan to a one-year, $1-million contract.

Winger Pat Maroon (two years, $900K AAV) and defenseman Luke Schenn (one year, $800K) are returning with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Florida Panthers sign defenseman Radko Gudas to a three-year contract ($2.5 million AAV).

In other news, the Tampa Bay Lightning placed winger Tyler Johnson on waivers. He has four years remaining on his contract with a $5 million annual cap hit and a full no-trade clause.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson will remain with the Arizona Coyotes. His deadline to be traded to either Boston or Vancouver came and went without a deal.










NHL Offseason Lookahead: Calgary Flames

NHL Offseason Lookahead: Calgary Flames










NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 29, 2020

A look at this year’s noteworthy UFAs in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently updated his listing of this year’s top NHL unrestricted free agents. St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tops the list, followed by Arizona Coyotes left wing Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins blueliner Torey Krug, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner.

TSN: Frank Seravalli also has Pietrangelo, Hall and Krug among his top-three and Lehner at No. 5 on his top-10 list, with Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom in the fourth spot.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No argument from me regarding Pietrangelo’s placement. He’ll be heavily courted if he and the Blues fail to reach agreement on a contract extension. Despite the flattened salary cap for next season, he could command over $9 million annually on the open market.

The respective playoff performances of Hall and Krug didn’t do much to improve their free-agent value, but they still remain near the top of this year’s UFA crop. Hall’s current annual average value is $6 million and Krug’s is $5.25 million. Under normal circumstances, they’d get long-term contracts with big raises. Now, they might have to accept short-term deals for more modest raises in hopes of scoring more lucrative deals once league revenue improves.

Hoffman played well for the Panthers during the qualifying round. He’s a reliable scorer but his age (31) could limit him to a three-year deal with an AAV of around $6 million.

I’d put Lehner slightly ahead of Markstrom but both are the best pending UFA netminders. Lehner will want a long-term deal after spending the past two years on one-year contracts and for more than his current $5 million. Markstrom is rumored to be seeking over $6 million annually on a long-term contract, but maybe he’ll accept that much on a three-year deal.

Larkin has Markstrom ninth on his listing, with Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie, Vancouver Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli, and Calgary Flames rearguard T.J. Brodie coming in sixth through 10.

Seravalli has Hoffman and Dadonov sixth and seventh on his listing, followed by Toffoli, Panthers center Erik Haula, and Barrie completing his top-10 list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Toffoli’s two-way skills should put him higher on those lists. Dadonov has tallied 25-play goals in each of the last three seasons and probably would’ve reached 60 points again this season had the schedule not been derailed by COVID-19, but I wonder how productive he’ll be with another club. 

Barrie’s stock really took a hit this season with the Leafs. However, he’s a right-handed shot with good puck-moving skills. As Seravalli suggests, he could regain his form away from Toronto’s harsh spotlight. I’m puzzled by Seravalli’s ranking Haula so high. While I agree this year’s market isn’t a good one for centers, Haula’s injury history could hurt his UFA value.

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and former Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien are 13th and 14th on Larkin’s rankings. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Sami Vatanen, Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund, and Tampa Bay Lightning blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk fill in the rest of spots 11 through 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Holtby’s playoff performance didn’t help his UFA stock. His play has been in decline since 2018. The flat cap will also work against his chances of securing a hefty raise on a long-term deal. Granlund also didn’t help his case with his postseason play. I’d put Byfuglien at the bottom of this list because we don’t know if he intends to resume his career after sitting out this season and if the 35-year-old blueliner will be as effective as he once way.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford lands at No. 20 on Larkin’s list, preceded by Calgary Flames defenseman Erik Gustafsson, Washington Capitals blueliner Brenden Dillon, Haula, and Flames rearguard Travis Hamonic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Larkin pointed out, Crawford played well despite the horrible blueline in front of him this season. He wonders if the long-time Blackhawks goalie will take less money to stay in Chicago. I think he will. At 35, he could sign a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a low base salary that could take him up to $5 million.

Dallas Stars netminder Anton Khudobin, Calgary Flames goalie Cam Talbot, and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz are among Larkin’s bottom 10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin’s play throughout this season and in the playoffs could send his value rising for clubs pursuing an experienced, reliable backup. Talbot could seek a starter’s job elsewhere if he doesn’t re-sign with the Flames. Schultz’s value plummeted this season, in part because he was returning from a serious leg injury suffered last season. He could prove a worthwhile, affordable gamble on a one-year, “show-me” deal.

New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo, Predators forward Craig Smith, Canucks blueliner Chris Tanev, Colorado Avalanche winger Vladislav Namestnikov, Carolina Hurricanes’ defenseman Joel Edmundson, and Arizona Coyotes center Carl Soderberg complete the listing.










NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – August 28, 2020

The latest on the Canadiens, Oilers, and Red Wings in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CANADIENS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin examined how the Montreal Canadiens could use their cap space and their stockpile of draft picks and prospects to acquire players who otherwise wouldn’t be available at bargain prices.

Montreal Canadiens winger Max Domi (NHL Images)

They believe the Canadiens don’t have to trade winger Max Domi, who’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Despite his tepid playoffs, they feel he still has value to the Canadiens as a skilled offensive player. However, that could also make Domi valuable to other clubs. The Canadiens could swap him for another RFA like Detroit’s Anthony Mantha or Columbus’ Josh Anderson, package him with a first-round pick in hopes of landing an impact player or swing a hockey trade by shopping him to a club like the Minnesota Wild for defenseman Jonas Brodin.

Basu and Godin wonder whether the Habs would shop the first-round pick (16th overall) in this year’s draft for immediate help. The Habs could also use the flattened salary cap to their advantage by re-signing players like Brendan Gallagher, Phillip Danault, Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to value deals. They could go the free-agent route to fill minor holes in the lineup, such as their backup goaltending.

They also suggested looking at trade targets on cap-strapped teams, pointing to Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn, Dallas’ Stephen Johns, and Columbus’ Markus Nutivaara. Killorn would bolster their forward lines (provided he waives his no-trade clause), while Johns or Nutivaara are right-side defensemen.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey reports Danault could face an uncertain future in Montreal with the rise of promising young centers like Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki. The two-way center was employed in a defensive role during the playoffs but indicated he wouldn’t want to limit himself to that specific part. With what he’s contributed in Montreal, Danault doesn’t expect his role will change, pointing out his offensive and defensive contributions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is expected to be busy in the off-season. He has a lot of assets to draw upon. Cap Friendly indicates the Canadiens have over $63 million invested in 16 players for next season, giving him plenty of room to take on a salaried player or two. He’s also got 14 picks in this year’s draft, including three in the second and fourth rounds and two in the third and fifth rounds He also holds eight picks through rounds three, four, and five of the 2021 draft.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Domi in the offseason. He’s considered the Habs’ most likely trade chip, but that will depend upon how contract discussions go and his value in the trade market.

Danault’s remarks about playing solely a defensive role prompted some fans and pundits to speculate he could be on his way out of Montreal, but I don’t think that’s the case. Reading his full remarks, he indicated he believes his role won’t change. I agree with him. He remains the Habs’ best two-way forward. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi played well in the postseason, but they still have limited NHL experience. I think Bergevin will stick with Danault centering one of his top-two lines for next season and see how things unfold.

As Basu and Godin point out, Bergevin must be careful not to overspend. He has a lot of cap space to work with for next season, but Danault, Gallagher, Petry, Armia, and Tartar become unrestricted free agents in 2021. The Habs GM can’t take on so much salary this year that it adversely affects efforts to retain most of those pending UFAs next summer.

RED WINGS

MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan recently examined the unrestricted free agent goaltending options for the Detroit Red Wings. Among them are Calgary’s Cam Talbot, Washington’s Braden Holtby, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Dallas’ Anton Khudobin and the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khan also listed Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott and Edmonton’s Mike Smith, but I don’t believe either guy can help the Wings between the pipes. They need an experienced starter.

With over $47 million invested in 11 players for 2020-21, the Wings have plenty of salary-cap space to go shopping for goalie help in the UFA market. Nevertheless, GM Steve Yzerman will have to sell them on the merits of joining his rebuilding club. Markstrom and Crawford will likely stay with their current clubs. Lehner, too, if Vegas decides to part ways with Marc-Andre Fleury.

THE ATHLETIC: (subscription required) Max Bultman recently examined possible ways the Wings could address their second-line center position. He suggested Toronto’s Alex Kerfoot or Colorado’s Tyson Jost as trade options. Nashville’s Kyle Turris could be a free-agent option if the Predators buy out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bultman’s article appears before the Leafs traded winger Kasperi Kapanen. Leafs GM Kyle Dubas hinted more changes could come but that doesn’t mean Kerfoot could follow Kapanen out the door.

OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Brian Lawton speculating the Oilers could trade two of their top-four defensemen. Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Darnell Nurse, and Ethan Bear currently hold those spots.

Staples doesn’t see Bear going anywhere and thinks Nurse’s leadership, skating, physical play, and even-strength scoring should keep him in Edmonton. He took note of the recent speculation suggesting Larsson could be shopped, and also felt Klefbom could be moved if the right offer (No. 1 goal, top-line forward) came along.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Allan Mitchell recently listed Florida winger Mike Hoffman, Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner, and Boston defenseman Torey Krug among his suggested free-agent targets for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers have over $70.4 million committed to 16 players next season. Unless they shed considerable salary, they can’t afford guys like Hoffman, Lehner, or Krug. If GM Ken Holland were to trade Larsson and/or Klefbom in cost-cutting moves, that would free up sufficient cap space for a proven starting goalie or a top-line forward.